Balancing Life, Work and Activities as a Student
Written by Sara Holsing, Class of 2020
As a student in high school or college, you are more than likely to be occupied with more than just homework. Maybe you’re part of the marching band, a sport, the engineering after-school club, or just work. Either way, you have many hours of your day occupied by mandatory obligations (e.g., homework, classes) and only have so many other hours for free time. Even though you may not be able to do it all, you can get yourself organized so you can figure out how much time you do have to prioritize the most important activities to you.
First thing’s first, figure out how you are going to stay organized. You could go traditional and buy a planner. There are so many different options for you! You can choose planners that have pages organized by day, week, or monthly layouts. If your schedule is more likely to change a lot or if you live by your phone, you could try various apps for calendar or task organizing. I use Google Calendar avidly and love that you can color code things as well as set multiple alerts if you want to be nudged when events or assignments are coming up. Other apps like 2Do may be helpful for making grocery lists or keeping track of projects and homework. It’s free on the Google Play and App Store and helps you organize by allowing you to add tags to tasks, make separate lists, create multiple alerts and more. Check it out here for more info. Overall, figure out what will work as your personal assistant and help you stay organized.
Prioritize what is important
After you figure out how you’re going to stay organized, it’s best to plot out your weekly schedule as soon as you can. Map out your classes, practices, and work shifts that are standard and routine. This will allow you to see how much time you have on an average week. Now you can plan for upcoming events and assignments ahead of time. If you’re using a digital calendar, this will be great so if dates change and projects are pushed back, you can simply change the date without too much erasing or white-out. This is also the time to make a list of daily tasks that are required of you so you can see where they fit into other assignments that are coming up.
Set deadlines and reminders and stick to them
For assignments and work that you owe, it’s important that you figure out how much time you’ll need to complete and turn in on time. Reading a one page article versus writing a 15 page paper will need different amounts of time to complete. Don’t forget to set reminders in advance. If you think you’ll need reminding 15 days before a paper is due (because let’s face it, sometimes we put things off), set your notification for 15 days before the due date at a time you’ll see it (e.g., 8 a.m. when you’re doing your morning scrolling before starting your day). If you tend to put things off, set multiple reminders. I try to set reminders for quick and easy assignments two days before they are due for my class.
Put away distractions so you can reward yourself with breaks
I know this is hard. But this is one of the most crucial things you can do to stay on track and be productive. If you’re an owner of a smartphone, put on Do Not Disturb or silent so you don’t get notifications about Snapchats or messages. It can wait. After you’ve done that, set some timers for your work. If you have reading or are studying for an exam, set a timer for 15 minutes and then after that goes off, you can have a 5 minute break to scroll or walk around. But while you’re working, it’s best to put your phone out of eyesight or far away from you so you aren’t tempted to check it. Then you can repeat that work and break cycle for as long as you need. If you think you can work straight through for longer, go for it!
Schedule time for yourself and your well-being
Although you will be working for a majority of your life, your life shouldn’t just be “Work hard, then work harder.” You’re human and deserve time off to spend time with friends, family, and doing the things that you love and enjoy. Not only do you deserve time off, but it will actually help you keep your pilot light on so you don’t get burnt out. If you have a full schedule, make sure you schedule out your designated self-care/me-time. Maybe you could pencil in 10 minutes of yoga stretches right before you go to sleep. Or you could schedule time out to reconnect with friends on the phone once a week. It’s important to actually jot this stuff down if you find it hard to carve out time for yourself. This time you set aside for yourself can act as an event just like a class. This time will benefit you and ultimately make you happier in the long run. You deserve that much.